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yo                  HISTORY OF PERSIA                rim-.
and above all so generous. Yahya, son of Khalid, had
handed over his offices to his two sons, Fazl and Jafar,
who between them ruled the Empire, Jatar was the
special friend and boon companion of Haroun, who, being
deeply attached to his sister Abbasa, wished for her
presence also when the two were together. But by
Moslem custom this was out of the question, and in order
to overcome the difficulty Abbasa was married to Jafar,1
on the express understanding, however, that the marriage
was to be only nominal. But, as might have been
expected, this artificial arrangement failed, and Abbasa,
who was deeply enamoured of her husband, visited him
in the disguise of a slave and bore him a child I laroun
was furious at what he probably regarded us high treason,
and put Jafar to death ; Yahya and Fa/1 were imprisoned,
and both died before their ungrateful master* No great
family has ever excited more sympathy in its misfortunes,
and the tragedy made a deep impression, which has been
preserved for us in the lament of poets and annalists of
the time,
The Death of Haroun-al-Rashhl^ A.IK 193 (809).
In A.H< 193 (809) the Caliph marched in person to crush
a rebellion which, breaking out in Samarcand under the
leadership of a certain Rafi, had spread far and wide,
Haroun, although but forty-threeyears old, was prematurely
worn out, and grew worse as he moved slowly eastwards.
He informed his physician of his disease, but added ;
cc Have a care that thou keep it secret; for my sons
are watching the hour of my decease, as thou mayest sec
by the shuffling steed they will now mount me on, adding
thus to mine infirmity/' There is pathos in these words,
but sympathy is checked by the knowledge that Haroun's
last act was to have the brother of the rebel chief skin in
his presence. Shortly afterwards the great Caliph passed
away. He was buried where he died, in a garden, and a
few years later the Imam Riza was laid to rest under the
1 A curious instance of a nominal marriage came under my notice at Kernutn*
An old lady of seventy who managed her own affairs was much inconvenienced by the
fact that she had to remain veiled in front of her steward, To obviate thU, he
married his infant son, and as by this act ahe became the steward's daughter-in-law
she could unveil before him. Truly a maritgt de rtnvtnanee I